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I got a 3.5 year old Bull Boxer (his mom was a Boxer, his dad was a Stafordshire Bull Terrior) named Murphy. He's a great dog with an amazing sense of humor, he loves people and loves to play. But he's a very timid dog. He's scared by just about everything. Crinkling plastic bags, a snapping fire in the fireplace, the vacuum cleaning, opening the ironing board (it makes a squeaky sound), or just about anything new and different. If he's restrained (not in his crate, which he loves) he gets very nervous and starts shaking. I tried using this method to teach him to speak (restrain him, then tempt him with something that he likes, so that he gets frustrated and vocalizes), but he just got nervous and wouldn't respond.

He never barks, and just whines when he wants attention. I'd like to be able to teach him to bark at strangers coming to the door. Right now he gets excited, because he views all people as a potential playmate, so he runs to the door when someone arrives and gets excited in anticipation of meeting a new friend, but he never barks.

Don't get me wrong, he's a very happy dog most of the time, very playful, loves people and other dogs. He's a big, muscular dog (almost 100 lbs) and while I don't want him to be aggressive, I'd like him to be more confidant than he is. I'm concerned that his fear and nervousness might manifest itself as unwanted aggression in the future.

Thanks for any help you might offer.
 

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Both dogs - boxers and Staffys were bred to be very people friendly, but it sounds like he needs some gentle, incremental exposure to everyday situations and noises.

Don't try to teach him to bark right now - you might teach him to be nervous on command :)
When boxers (and staffys) are very excited they shake... Are you sure that your dog is unhappy and nervous when he's shaking?

As far as noises, assume it will take a very long time to desensitize him. Pick a noise that he is least scared of, take him far from the noise and give him a treat, then make the noise. If he gets nervous, go further away or make the noise softer, then give him another treat. When he is calm, move a little closer.... Keep up this process until he is OK with that noise - it could take weeks. Then, move on to the next least scary noise.

At the same time, take him for drives in the car, shopping, to visit places like PetsMart and Home Depot to try to give him more confidence. .... When he is more confident, he'll bark.
 
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